Top New York Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe arrived to Spring Training last week sporting the No. 70 jersey.
There wouldn’t seem to be much significance to this for the 20-year-old former first-round pick and New Jersey native. That’s until we realize a lad by the name of Derek Jeter sported this very same jersey number during the spring all the way back in 1995.
For Volpe, this jersey assignment doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. He received his first invite to Spring Training since New York made the infielder the No. 30 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. It also comes after Volpe dominated minor league pitching a season ago.
Anthony Volpe looking to continue last season’s success in Florida
Splitting time between Single-A ball and high Single-A, Volpe was an absolute stud in his first full minor league season. Remember, the minors did not have a season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Anthony Volpe stats (2021): .294 average, 27 HR, 86 RBI, 33 SB, .423 OBP, 1.027 OPS
This came after Volpe struggled playing rookie league ball back in 2019 — hitting a mere .215 in 34 games. Now looking to make his imprint with the big league club, Volpe is simply soaking in the experience in the Florida sun.
“It’s an awesome learning experience. Just being in the dugout the first couple innings when I wasn’t even playing, just trying to be a sponge, keep my ears as open as I can. I think I learned a lot today, and I hope to learn a lot going forward.”Anthony Volpe in first Spring Training experience, via MLB.com
Thus far this spring, Volpe has yet to record a hit for the Yankees. He went 0-for-2 in the team’s 8-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. Even then, his career might take him to the Bronx sooner rather than later.
New York Yankees miss out on top shortstops: What it means for Anthony Volpe
That’s the major backdrop here. New York was in on both Carlos Correa and Trevor Story before they signed deals over the past few days. Correa went to the American League-rival Minnesota Twins while Trevor Story signed with the hated Boston Red Sox.
At the very least, the Yankees love what they’ve seen from the young Volpe out on the field and from an athleticism perspective.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in what his future is going to be,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters late last week, via NJ.com. “One of the reasons we drafted him was the makeup and intangibles. We’ve certainly seen that in overdrive since he’s been with us, and we’ve also seen the talent and physical development.”
For New York, it’s not that the team couldn’t afford Correa, Story or some of the other top free-agent shortstops in a market what was ripe with talent at that position. Rather, the team has confidence that Volpe can make a quick transition to the majors.
Right now, the recently-acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa will be New York’s Opening Day shorststop. He was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in the blockbuster Josh Donaldson trade earlier in March. While Kiner-Falefa is more sure-handed than the free-agent options listed above (2020 Gold Glove winner), he’s not exactly a dynamic threat at the plate.
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa stats (2021): .271 average, 8 HR, 53 RBI, 20 SB, .312 OBP, .670 OPS
Anthony Volpe has been getting his reps at short during the spring. It’s the position he’s slated to play moving forward. Once he proves to be more dynamic at the plate than Kiner-Falefa, the youngster will be in New York in no time.
We’re talking about the No. 1 prospect in the Yankees’ organization and a top-10 prospect around the baseball world — one that has all the hallmarks of being a true star.
Whether that time comes during the 2022 season or in 2023 remains to be seen. But when it happens, Derek Jeter will have some company as the most-heralded Yankees prospect in generations.